the printed thoughts of a woman on a journey towards awareness, truth, acceptance, clarity, and forgiveness...with some fun and fearlessness thrown in

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

who am i not to be?

I made my now annual trek to Florida over the last weekend of April to participate in Operation Freefall and to spend time with some of my closest & dearest friends, including a friend who drove from Chattanooga to watch me skydive and spent the entire day at the drop zone. I had an amazing time and wish we had more time together. We stayed up late talking and drinking wine. We ate Jamaican food and sinfully delicious garlic butter rolls. We spent the afternoon at the beach, floating in the gentle waves of the Gulf and digging our toes into the warm, white sand. We danced in an elevator, set high scores on a video game, skydived, and got tattoos (or a piercing). We laughed, hugged, and attempted to literally breathe in every moment that we had together, knowing that our memories would have to carry us until we could be together again.

During the weekend, despite all the good times and good vibes, I had the opportunity to confront several of my insecurities. Happily, though, what would have limited my ability to socialize and to enjoy myself in the past was mostly just an annoyance that I was able to quickly brush off. I have never felt as pretty as other girls/women, and, even when I was thin, I have always been self-conscious about my body. Most of my friends on this weekend are significantly younger that me, and they are all much prettier (in my opinion). My old, familiar, self-deprecating thoughts came to visit a time or two. "She's so beautiful. You look really ugly compared to her." "She has such a great figure. You look so fat next to her." Like buzzing pests, though, I noticed them, but them shooed them away. I put on a bathing suit and went to the beach! Hell, it was a big deal that I even packed the bathing suit and the outfit I wore as a cover-up. The whole look was way out of my comfort zone, but I actually felt good in it. And when one of my friends said that I looked like a tennis player, I felt complimented. I mean, when was the last time you saw a fat, ugly tennis player? Even if she meant it as a crack, I decided to accept it as something positive.

My negative thoughts and feelings about myself sometimes run very deep. A recurring sentiment is that for whatever reason people don't really like me--they're just putting up with me. I once heard someone say that every group of friends has that one girl that no one really likes, but they just deal with it, because it would be too hard to "break up" with her. She then said that if you don't know who that person is in your group of friends, then it's probably you. I am often convinced that I am that person, and that thought entered my mind once during the weekend. I mean, all of my friends are so interesting, dynamic, funny, intelligent, and attractive. Clearly, I am the wannabe of the group, right? No! I decided not to let my suspicions and self-doubt carry more weight than what my friends said about me. If they said that I was funny, that I looked younger than my age, that they wished they could see me more, that they loved me, then why couldn't those things be true?

I used to attend a women's personal growth group. I really credit that group, its members, and its facilitator, Lynne Forrest, with helping me to recognize and to challenge my core beliefs, particularly those which were hindering my growth and limiting my experiences. One of the group members once gave everyone a small, plastic card with a quotation on it. It took a while for the real meaning of the words to impact me, but they now resonate with me. They help me to realize that when I am doubting myself, my looks, my abilities, my worthiness, when I am comparing myself to others, when I am projecting judgmental attitudes onto others, that I am assigning myself the label of "victim." I might as well be throwing myself a pity party, wallowing in a self-proscribed state of powerlessness, woundedness, and incompetency. No thanks! Been there, done that!

I keep the card on a mirror above the table where I get ready everyday. The quotation is from Marianne Williamson, and it reads:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are born to manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Thank you to all of my friends, who remind me of my shining light and so beautifully shine themselves.